Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Musical Sweep Pin

I have forgotten just how much fun designing pins and broaches can be. The broach designer doesn't have nearly the functional restrictions that the ring designer has. I guess one could nearly do “anything” and then put a pin back finding on it and call it a broach.

This piece was a commissioned by a gentleman in Port Townsend, Washington. He had found this very singular piece of “turtle back rock” while beach combing. The way the matrix fades from top to bottom really fascinated him. He asked me to make a broach for his wife using textured sterling and maybe some moonstone pebbles. I added a dot of blue topaz to help “punch” up the blue in the moonstone. The “sweep” that the moonstone is mounted onto is made of classical sterling while the rest of the piece is made of argentium sterling. The classical sterling takes a dark patina much more dramatically than the argentium and I needed the darkness to make the “play of color” come out in the moonstone.

I'm afraid that I my training in art school was a bit formal and as such nearly all my pieces start as a drawing. As my undergraduate professor C.James Meyer put so bluntly many a time, the most valuable tool any artist has is the ability to draw.

And I have to confess that through the years...knowing where you are trying to go... is a big advantage to bumping along in the dark. Here to the right are some of the final sketchs I made before starting this project in metal.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"and water cuts rock revisited"

This is the latest in the “and water cuts rock” series. It features a beach pebble that the people in Joyce, Washington call the “chrysanthemum rock”. I like the way the baroque pearls set off the irregularity of the beach rocks. This series has a special meaning for me (see older posts) and I am always thrilled when I see a rock tumbling along in the surf that seems a good candidate.

I do remember the moment I found this particular piece. I was so busy chasing it as it scurried back towards the surf in the receding wave that I broke a cardinal rule of walking in the surf zone. Never turn your back on the ocean. The next wave cut my feet out from under me and I took a good spill into the swirling icy foam. By the time I regained my footing Mama Pacific had reclaimed my bucket, sunglasses, walking stick and a good measure of dignity.

As I picked myself up and took stock of what had just happened I realized that I still had that little piece of “chrysanthemum rock” clutched in my fist. I slowly backed away towards dry land with the chuckling sound of the ocean slowly being replaced by the chorus of laughter from my friends on the warm sandy beach. Pat, Debbie and my buddy Ed said it was one of the funniest stunts I had pulled off yet…a one half turn with a nose plant finish.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Who is "Solarsally"?

I have a 1957 Chevy pickup that my two boys Matt and Chris and myself have worked on for about 18 years now. There is always one thing or another to be done on the old girl but she just keeps on “keeping on”. We have spent many a night sleeping in her bed starring up at the stars with hot rocks from the fire wrapped in an old army blanket at our feet. We visited oh so many subjects talking about one thing or another, as the nights would wear on.

Originally she was called “Sally Greene”. The truck was from Eagle Rock, MO and was a deep powdery forest green. Sally was my grandmother’s name and the truck was green. We decided to use the extra “e” because…well…we could. Our fishing trips were often recorded in her flanks with one dent or another. Then the weekend after would be one of repair and repaint. Layer after layer the summers would wear on. Then one day came the inevitable…the engine rebuild.

Sally Greene had her engine rebuilt during a solar eclipse and that was not an "event slash coincidence" to go un-noted. So after she came back out of the shop…we repainted her and started treating her slightly better. Now she sports a flashy (almost tawdry) turquoise color and a very shiny finish, but make no mistake, this is still a lady o' the woods. She continued to made all of our fishing trips…but now we tried to find a kinder way to get her to the water’s edge. She became “Solarsally”, a true lady of the back roads and byways of Arkansas and Tennessee.

Today Solarsally lives in Washington State and this was her day to get a new rebuilt starter. She had a new clutch, pressure plate, throw out bearing, and re-surfaced flywheel last week. I tossed in a set of new rear view mirrors and sound deadening pads. Oh sweet joy…she is purring like a kitten in warm arms. Albeit I have the busted knuckles to testify to the events I still love every moment I’m in this old truck.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

" Wave Length " A new piece.

This is a new piece that I just finished yesterday for the Sequim Arts Small Art Show. To qualify as small art the piece had to be 8” by 10” or smaller. I used an 8” X 8” square format turned as a diamond. I have recently been doing some research into the South Seas Stick Charts used by some Polynesian sailors. You can see some of that influence here in this piece I have named “Wave Length”.

I have used fir for the wooden parts. I severely stressed the soft summer grain with a sand blaster in the first “wave”. The second wave of wood has been gold leafed with a pine colored sizing in the background. While the third wave is a sheet of raised copper with a bit of the sawdust sprinkled onto the patina while it was still wet. This third wave is set with a “Tri-arc” broach with a black beach rock. The broach is removed and borrowed for your personal adornment and then returned to it’s “home” after you are through wearing it.

The idea of making a special environment for some of these jewelry pieces came from watching an individual literally throw jewelry into a cigar box when she was finished wearing a piece. Having spent a great deal of time and effort into conceiving and building the pieces, I found myself becoming increasingly annoyed at this on-going activity. So the idea of expanding the jewelry into a larger physical unit came into being.

I love the opportunity to continue an idea into a larger format and still keep some of the classical definition and criteria of the jewelry intact. Anyway…it was fun and quick exercise.

the beach rocks

the beach rocks
Although I have been lucky enough to receive many accolades and awards during my professional career as a jewelry designer, I was nearly always fulfilling a commission and therefore the aesthetical concerns of my client. Now that I have relocated to the great NorthWest I am pursuing my own images for the first time since graduate school…and loving my craft with a renewed spirit.

deep currents

deep currents
This was inspired by the way the river's currents swirl around the rocks that sit on the bed of the river.

in the kelp bed

in the kelp bed
At times I let my mind wander to what is happening below...in the depths of the kelp beds. I image how the cold waters waft and drift along. I like to think about the serenity of life in the kelp beds.

two six rings

two six rings
We called these rings "six ring" because when you see then from the side...in profile...they reminded us of the number six.